One of the top PSP emulators on Android could be coming to the App Store

 The PSP on top of its box.
The PSP on top of its box.

With Apple opening the App Store to emulators, the question of which emulators will make the cut is on everyone's mind. The popular PPSSPP emulator is available on Android and PC, and this week, the developer confirmed he is ready to bring it to iPhones.

It’s pretty exciting, even if, for some of us, the PSP was mostly an excuse to play Final Fantasy Tactics again.

Android Authority confirmed that PPSSPP creator Henrik Rydgård will make an iOS version of the emulator. However, he stated that Apple would need to allow users to pick and load their own ROMs to their phones.

“Since we don't own the rights to PSP games, we can't offer them as in-app downloads, users must still obtain the games on their own (by dumping UMDs),” Rydgård wrote in a blog post. “So, for PPSSPP to be useful beyond running a small set of free homebrew games, it all depends on how Apple interprets their own rules.”

For those who don’t know, emulators are like consoles on your PC or phone. They don’t actually host any games; users have to download ROMs that the emulator runs. How the user acquires those ROMs can vary from dumping their own physical media to illegally pirating them.

PPSSPP PlayStation Emulator
PPSSPP PlayStation Emulator

Many apps in Apple's ecosystem have to host downloads within the app, which emulators can’t do since the developers don’t own the rights to the games.

Yesterday, Apple confirmed to MacRumors that emulators can use downloaded ROMs. The catch, however, is that the app can only emulate retro console games, not anything considered modern.

It’s unclear what Apple considers retro. Nothing we’ve read definitively states when the clock starts for a system to be considered retro for Apple. At this point, the PSP is 20 years old and hasn’t been supported since 2014. The Nintendo Wii came out in 2006. Would that be eligible for an iOS emulator (pending Nintendo's desire to send cease-and-desist letters)? These questions need to be answered.

The launch of emulators on iOS has not been smooth. Just this week, Apple had to remove one of the very first emulators in the App Store because of spam and copyright infringement. For example, the iGBA app that Apple removed was specifically for Nintendo’s Game Boy Advance, which was released in 2001.

For reference, the PSP was launched in 2004. The obvious consoles like the NES, Super NES, Sega Genesis, Sega Saturn and the N64 make sense for iOS, but the line for consoles like the PSP is blurry.

That said, Henrik Rydgard seems confident that if users can pick their own downloads for the emulators, then the PPSSPP will come to iOS. Since Apple confirmed that users can do so, perhaps the PSP is considered retro or the developer is banking on Apple not removing it despite the console being newer than the GBA.

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